There is still a question mark hovering over where Aaron Rodgers stands with the Packers, as both sides appear to have two completely different ideas of what’s to come in their long-standing relationship.
After ESPN reported hours before the 2021 NFL Draft that Rodgers was so “disgruntled” with the team that he had expressed to people within the organization he doesn’t want to return for a 17th season, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst stood his ground and doubled down on the nine-time Pro Bowler’s importance to the franchise.
“We’re not going to trade Aaron Rodgers,” he said.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Friday, however, that Rodgers has told teammates that he will not return to the team, and this staredown could get ugly as the offseason progresses.
Last week, Gutekunst said the team was committed to Rodgers “for the foreseeable future” despite having traded up in the first round of the 2020 draft to select quarterback Jordan Love. Rodgers has acknowledged the move took him by surprise, and muddied the possibility of him finishing his career in Green Bay.
Gutekunst admitted he probably could’ve handled things better with Rodgers when Packers management made the decision to draft Love.
“I certainly look back to last year’s draft and just kind of maybe some of the communication issues we could have done better,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it. The draft’s an interesting thing. It can kind of unfold differently than you think it’s going to unfold, and it happens pretty fast. But certainly, I think, looking back on it sitting where we sit today, there could have been some communication things we did better.”
With reports about Rodgers’ disappointment with the organization running rampant Thursday, Gutekunst assured there had been constant communication between both sides throughout the offseason.
“We’ve been working through this for a little while now, and I just think it may take some time,” he said. “But he’s a guy that kind of makes this thing go. He gives us the best chance to win, and we’re going to work towards that end.”
Gutekunst denied speaking with 49ers general manager John Lynch about a deal for Rodgers, who is under contract through the 2023 season. Lynch had told reporters Thursday that San Francisco “inquired” about Rodgers, but that the conversation was quick because “it wasn’t happening.”
Despite news of Rodgers’ unhappiness, Gutekunst said there weren’t many teams to call. And even though Rodgers hasn’t agreed to a contract extension, the fourth-year GM is confident that the fact that the team has stayed competitive will entice the 37-year-old to stay. The Packers have brought back all but two starters from last year’s team, which went 13-3 and reached the NFC Championship for a second straight season.
“I’m not going to speak for Aaron, but I think obviously we have a really good team and I do think he’ll play for us again,” Gutekunst said. “And like I said, we’re going to work towards that and we’ve been working towards that on a number of different fronts. The value that he adds to our football is really immeasurable, you know what I mean? He brings so much to the table not only as a player but as a leader. He’s so important to his teammates, to his coaches, so yeah, that’s the goal.”
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